Posters for the missing kapok tree appear on streetlights offering a reward for its safe return. I hate to spoil it,
but the end of every biography is death. The end of a city in the rainforest is a legend and a lost expedition. The end
of mythology is forgetfulness, placing gifts in the hole where the worshipped tree should be. But my memory
lengthens with each ending. I know where to find the lost mines of Muribeca and how to cross the Pacific on a raft
made of balsa. I know the tree wasn't stolen. She woke from her stillness some equatorial summer evening by a dream
of being chased by an amorous faun, which was a memory, which reminded her that in another form she had legs
and didn't need the anxious worship of people who thought her body was a message. She is happier than the poem tattooed
on her back says she is, but sadder than the finches nesting in her hair believe her to be. I am more or less content to be
near her in October storms, though I can't stop thinking that with the right love or humility or present of silk barrettes
and licorice she might become a myth again in my arms, ardent wordless, needing someone to bear her away from the flood.
About This Poem "This poem is part of a series I'm working on that mythologizes the town in Brazil where my mother was born and raised. Mysterious and possibly miraculous things begin to occur there, and every resident has a different explanation. The speaker believes the reason for the miracles is a hamadryad nymph with a poem tattooed on her back who ran away rather than be worshipped." -Traci Brimhall
About Traci Brimhall Traci Brimhall is the author of "Our Lady of the Ruins" (W. W. Norton, 2012). She teaches at Kansas State University and lives in Manhattan, Kan.
*** The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.
(c) 2014 Traci Brimhall. Distributed by King Features Syndicate